East Tennessee representative pushing to stop cell phone usage in cars

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An East Tennessee representative is trying to pass legislation making it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving.

Representative John Holsclow out of Elizabethton is sponsoring the bill, which would cover all hand held uses of phones. The bill does allow hands-free devices.

“If this saves one life, this bill has been worth my effort trying to pass through legislation,” said Holsclaw.

Currently it is illegal to talk on a phone while driving in 14 other states. AAA says distracted driving of any kind is extremely dangerous. Currently about 2500 people are killed each year because of phone usage.

“It certainly increases your mental distraction because when you’re talking with somebody on the phone you’re mentally thinking up what things are looking like,” said Don Lindsey with AAA. “Your mind is a thousand miles away on something else, you can actually miss seeing red lights. You can miss seeing pedestrians,”

Some drivers say they agree and already make an effort to ignore the phones while driving.

“My boyfriend gets on to me all the time if I’m trying it, so we have a policy now that we just pull over if you want to text or call, and it only takes a second,” said Cassandra Lizarraga of Knoxville.

Another driver, Wesley Cox, agreed, “When somebody’s calling you, you’re going to look at your phone and see who it is or if you need to call somebody you got to look at your phone to do it.”

With a potential punishment of a $50.00 fine and considered a non-moving violation, Holsclaw says his goal is just to remind people of the dangers. “It’s kind of just a smack on the hand to say you need to be more considerate of others on the road,” he said.

The bill also calls for the money from those fines to go toward drivers education courses or other drivers safety programs. The proposed legislation still has to go through a subcommittee and committee before going to the floor for a vote.

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